The credits rolled as I slowly plodded out of the theatre, choking back the tears. I didn’t expect the film to evoke such a wide range of emotion. Anguish, anger, apathy, and an undesired sense of resignation that perhaps like the Middle East conflict, this injustice will never be fully resolved.
The Butler was exceedingly more than I could have ever envisioned.
It is the “true” story of Eugene Allen’s transformation from a mere field hand to a White House butler of thirty-four years.
The butler and his wife, Helene, fictionalized as Cecil and Gloria Gaines, are played by Forest Whitaker (phenomenal performance) and Oprah Winfrey. This nearly epic movie spans Gaines’ experiences from 1952 to 1986, during eight presidential terms. In his role as butler, he is witness to myriad presidential discussions about national civil rights issues, including the Federal Integration of Central High School, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and Barack Obama’s 2008 presidential campaign.
As with many historical films, liberties are taken and the past is rewritten to increase the drama and create a storyline that more closely suits the filmmaker’s (Lee Daniels) intentions. For example. Mr. Allen never had a son named Luis, who is a member of the Freedom Riders and the Black Panthers. However, the creation of this character creates a father-son conflict that illustrates the opposition between the older and younger black generations, each seeing different means to resolving the issue of racial inequality.
All that matters to me is that Allen’s son, Charles, is still living and has seen and approved the film.
As I have written in an earlier post, it is obvious that racial injustice remains an issue in this country. If any of you readers disagree, simply take a glance at the 2011 FBI Hate Crimes Data from my blog about race.
The Butler certainly doesn’t offer a solution to the issue of racial inequality. However, if you take the time to view it, it may inspire you as a parent to find ways to educate your children not to be racist. Professor Sonja Kang of the University of Toronto and MIT Organization Studies professor, Evan Apfelbaum have analyzed decades of data about race and have outlined “five tips for parents who wish to raise less prejudiced children.”
Here’s wishing each of us a week where we see hearts rather skin color in our interactions with our fellow children of God, created equally in His image.
I would welcome any tips you may have for teaching children about racial equality.